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US condemns Rwandan support for M23 rebels in DR Congo

February 18, 2024

The US expressed concern about the escalating violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where M23 rebels launched an offensive near Goma.

A jammed road as thousands of Congolese people flee the ongoing conflict between government forces and M-23 rebels
Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee towards Goma due growing clashes in SakeImage: Moses Sawasawa/AP/picture alliance

The United States condemned the worsening violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and called on M23 rebels to cease hostilities immediately.

In a statement released on Saturday, the US State Department also condemned Rwanda for supporting the rebels. 

"The United States strongly condemns the worsening violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) caused by the actions of the Rwanda-backed, US- and UN-sanctioned M23 armed group, including its recent incursions into the town of Sake," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

What is happening in eastern Congo?

Fighting has flared in recent days around the town of Sake, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Goma, between M23 rebels and Congolese government forces.

Dozens of soldiers and civilians have reportedly been killed or wounded in the fighting.

Thousands of civilians fled towards Goma, which is now practically cut off from the rest of the country.

"This escalation has increased the risk to millions of people. ... We call on M23 to immediately cease hostilities and withdraw from its current positions around Sake and Goma," the US said. 

It called on Rwanda to immediately withdraw all of its military personnel from the DRC and remove surface-to-air missile systems.

The Congo, United Nations, and Western countries blame Rwanda for supporting the M23 rebels so that it could control mineral resources, an allegation Kigali refutes.

There is a growing feeling of resentment among the Congolese people toward aid organizations like the UN which have failed to contain violence against civilians despite their 25 years of presence in the country.

mfi/lo (AFP, Reuters)